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What Are Club Drugs and Why Are They Dangerous?

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Going out to a club at night is a long-held tradition for teenagers and young people. Unfortunately, today, part of that clubbing scene also includes the use of club drugs and substance abuse. Club-goers and parents of club-goers should learn as much as possible about these party drugs in order to keep themselves and their loved ones safe.

What Are Club Drugs and Who Uses Them

In the 1980s, raves first became popular in England, and they soon after became popular in the United States. A rave is an electronic dance party that usually occurs in a warehouse or other large building that typically looks abandoned or neglected from the outside.

Rave announcements usually come out just a few hours before the rave begins, and rave-goers typically learn about the time and location of a rave through social media and word-of-mouth. Raves typically last anywhere between one to three days.

Raves are an attack on the senses. They involve loud, pulsating music, extreme strobe lighting, and, often, party drugs. The goal of using these drugs is to enhance the sensory-overload experience and to help the rave-goer stay awake, dancing, for the duration of the rave.

The popularity of raves has waned in recent years due to police action and the growth of the club scene. However, club drugs remain popular despite media reports of people dying at raves and clubs due to the use of these drugs.

Why Club Drugs Are Dangerous

Technically, any drug that a user takes in a club atmosphere could be called a “club drug.” However, the term usually applies to a particular set of drugs. These drugs are typically man-made, cheap, and readily available.

The conditions under which a person takes club drugs increase the risk of the person experiencing health problems. Often, people consume club drugs with alcohol. Consuming alcohol and drugs simultaneously adds to a person’s risk of dehydration and overdose. Health risks also increase from club-drug producers often lacing their drugs with additional, potentially-harmful substances.

Both men and women may also be at an increased risk of sexual assault when they consume club-drugs. Rohypnol and gamma-hydroxybutyric acid (GHB) are common club-drugs in cases of sexual assault. Colloquially, many people know these drugs as “date-rape drugs.”

In date-rape cases, the victim is usually unaware that they ingested these drugs. Typically, perpetrators of sexual assault slip date-rape drugs into a victim’s drink. In some cases, the victim may take a date-rape drug believing that they are taking a different club drug.

Regardless of what type of drug a young person takes in a club, there is always the risk of short-term and long-term health problems. These problems include psychological addiction, an allergic or toxic reaction, and severe dehydration. Drug users also risk dying from overdose.

Examples of Club Drugs

The following list details the most popular club drugs. Club drugs include ecstasy, GHB, Rohypnol, methamphetamine, and ketamine. There are many other dangerous drugs that we do not detail below. However, the following drugs are some of the cheapest and easiest drugs for young people to obtain.

Ecstasy (MDMA)

Ecstasy, which people also know as “molly” or chemically as “3,4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine” or “MDMA,” is a synthetic drug that is similar to stimulants and hallucinogens.

Ecstasy users experience feelings of increased energy, emotional warmth, empathy, and pleasure. The drug also distorts sensory and time perception for the user, which increases the effects of music and lights at a club.

The effects of taking an MDMA ecstasy pill can last between three to six hours. Many ecstasy users take a second tablet as soon as they feel the effects of the first pill wearing off.

Ecstasy is known to raise the body temperature of the drug user. In a club setting, where the drug user is likely dancing and is surrounded by hundreds of other dancers, this symptom can be fatal. High body temperature may lead to intense dehydration, which increases the drug-user’s risk of liver, heart, or kidney failure.

Gamma-Hydroxybutyrate (GHB)

GHB is a depressant that affects the central nervous system. Some perpetrators of sexual assault use GHB as a date-rape drug, and these individuals often put the drug in a victim’s drink without the victim noticing. Many people also refer to GHB as “liquid X,” “Georgia home boy,” “gamma-oh,” or “grievous bodily harm.”

GHB produces extreme sleepiness that is often accompanied by memory loss, which is why the drug is popular among rapists. The drug is also highly addictive and can result in extreme sedation, seizures, coma, severe respiratory problems, and death.


Rohypnol is another drug that is common in date-rape cases. It is a benzodiazepine, which means that it is ten times stronger than Xanax. Rohypnol is also known as “roofies,” “rophies,” “robutal,” “lunch-money drug,” and “forget-me pill.”

The most extreme effects of Rohypnol can last up to six hours, and other effects of Rohypnol can last for up to twelve hours. Withdrawal from this drug can be very unpleasant, and symptoms can include tension, muscle pain, delirium, loss of identity, shock, and seizures.

Because of Rohypnol’s addictive qualities and dangerous side effects, patients who receive a doctor-approved prescription for Rohypnol must follow a staggered withdrawal plan.


Methamphetamine is a highly addictive stimulant that rave-goers also know as “meth,” “crystal,” “ice,” “speed,” and “rocket fuel.” Methamphetamine is often clinically prescribed for children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and a common side effect of methamphetamine use is a severely reduced appetite.

A methamphetamine high can last up to ten hours, and post-high crashes after methamphetamine use are typically severe. Methamphetamine users will often sleep for 24 hours after usage, and they will experience withdrawal symptoms, including paranoia, stomach cramps, teeth damage, and aggression. Extreme weight loss is also common among methamphetamine users.


Ketamine, which people also refer to as “special K,” “cat valium,” and “Kit kat,” has a clinical use as an anesthetic in veterinary care. Drug researchers developed ketamine for human use originally, but regulators discontinued the drug for use in humans due to the drug’s harmful effects. These adverse effects include delirium, confusion, irrational behavior, and hallucinations.

The hallucinatory effects of ketamine only last for an hour or so, but a period of distorted thinking can continue for much longer. Death from overdose is a risk when people use ketamine, and flashbacks can also occur for some time after a person uses the drug.

Where to Get Help for Problems With Club Drugs Use 

Las Encinas Hospital is an acute mental health psychiatric facility in Pasadena, California, that offers services for youth and adults who are affected by drug abuse and addiction. We designed our “Restore to Wellness Program” for college students who suffer from drug abuse, and we offer residential treatment programs for females. We also offer partial hospitalization (PHP) and intensive outpatient programs (IOP) programs.

To get started at Las Encinas Hospital, you can contact us online to arrange a clinical assessment or to discuss your needs with our highly-qualified staff.